Next week on WWE Raw, there will be a Triple Threat to decide Drew McIntyre’s next challenger. Here’s why AJ Styles should win.
Riddle, Keith Lee, and AJ Styles all won qualifying matches on the Nov. 23 episode of WWE Raw to get entered into a Triple Threat match on Nov. 30. The winner of this Triple Threat will earn a title opportunity against Drew McIntyre, the current WWE Champion, with the match presumably happening at TLC on Dec. 20.
Since I believe Riddle isn’t good enough to be in a world title match and Lee should be saved for a future match against McIntyre, perhaps even in a crowning moment at WrestleMania, that leaves Styles as the best candidate to win this match and face McIntyre.
But Styles isn’t solely the best pick by process of elimination. He would be a dream opponent for McIntyre to close 2020.
Styles was recently the Intercontinental Champion, but the mid-card titles have never really suited Styles. Refer back to his United States Championship run as an example. He is so much better when his matches feel exclusive and the man can be saved for a spellbinding performance in a world title match. Styles is a legend of wrestling who has been one of the world’s best for at least a decade, so he needs to be locked into the main event scene. At this stage of his career, he’s not a “workhorse”.
At Survivor Series, we saw McIntyre produce maybe his finest match in WWE since the NXT Championship bout with Andrade “Cien” Almas in 2017. That’s how good his brawl with Roman Reigns was. It had everyone on the edge of their seats, even though no title was on the line. The “stakes” of McIntyre proving himself as a true top star and not just Roman’s No. 2 were sufficient enough.
Against Styles, McIntyre will have something else to prove, beyond just outlasting the number’s game with Jordan Omogbehin at ringside. He’ll prove that he can hang with a guy who has built a reputation for years in multiple major companies as an elite-level wrestler who can have five-star matches with moves that make fans’ jaws drop.
McIntyre has put on great matches in WWE, most namely that classic with Almas. This year, he’s had two matches that were in the discussion as the best on that Pay Per View against Roman and Seth Rollins. However, he’s also had matches with Randy Orton that didn’t quite measure up to the other world title matches on the card, specifically that main event at Hell in a Cell.
Styles is going to push McIntyre in a different way, and McIntyre is going to have to show that he can keep up with him. And that’s something Styles can draw upon. With Omogbehin by his side, his veteran bag of tricks, and his own high-flying ability, Styles is a completely different opponent than anyone McIntyre has faced this year. That gives McIntyre a chance to wrestle a new style and tell a new story, while getting another opportunity to check off a box skeptics may have left unfilled.
I think a feud that lasts through the Royal Rumble between Styles and McIntyre would make sense. It would save Lee for WrestleMania season, but it would still give McIntyre a feud of the magnitude that suits him as WWE Champion. He’s really entrenched himself as a major star in the company, with his match against Reigns serving as a crowning achievement in his career year.